Flood Snakes & Ladders

Flood Snakes & Ladders uses words, pictures and models from children and young people who were directly affected by flooding in the UK. Playing the game will help you experience what it’s like to be flooded from a young person’s perspective.

If you would like to play the game, get in touch and we will provide you with the electronic files you will need. Contact us at cuidar@lancaster.ac.uk

Who can play?

The game works best with 10-20 participants, grouped into 2-3 teams. However, it is possible to play with smaller or bigger groups.

A large red fuzzy dice, Indian bells and blue and green foam game tiles for Flood Snakes & LaddersWhat equipment do I need?

The game is simple to set up and play. You will need the following facilities:

  • A room that is large enough to lay out 32 floor tiles
  • A computer with PowerPoint installed that is linked to a projector and screen
  • A large fuzzy or inflatable dice!
  • Flood Snakes and Ladders PowerPoint file
  • Flood Snakes and Ladders Facilitator’s Notes
  • A print run of the Flood Snakes and Ladders Floor Tiles
  • Printouts of the Record Sheet (one for each team)
  • (Optional) Musical instruments (with 3 different sounds: 1) shaking sound for throwing the dice 2) high-pitched sound for going up the ladder 3) low-pitched sound for going down the snake

How long does it take?

You need about 45mins-1 hour to get the best from the game.

Six adults and one facilitator play a giant version of Snakes & Ladders using a large inflatable dice and coloured floor tiles

A picture of four young children and the facilitator playing a game of Flood Snakes & Ladders. One of the children in the foreground is holding up a small gong.









Background to Flood Snakes & Ladders – How It All Began

diceThe first version of Flood Snakes & Ladders was designed as a training tool for front-line workers to provide an insight into the difficulties that families encounter during the long-term recovery process that follows a disaster. It was developed by Lancaster University researchers from the Hull Floods Project which explored people’s recovery from the floods of June 2007 in Hull.

The idea for the game came from the adult participants involved in the research – they joked that recovering from a flood was a bit like a game of snakes and ladders – you think you’re making progress and then you have a massive setback and have to go back to square one! Based on this insightful comment, we designed the game to simulate the ‘backwards and forwards’ nature of recovery.

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Why Flood Snakes & Ladders?


While flooding is the case study used, the issues raised by the game will help those interested in understanding recovery following a wide range of disasters. Within the disaster management field, much research and planning is devoted to dealing with the disaster event itself. However, our research shows that the longer-term recovery process that follows a disaster can be equally difficult for families to deal with.

Flood Snakes & Ladders is a game that has been developed to provide its players with a personal experience of this disaster recovery process. It uses anonymised quotes from real people who took part in our research in Hull to showcase the highs and lows of recovery and how these are linked to the ways in which the recovery process is managed. It is a versatile training tool that can be used in a variety of situations. For example:

  • With emergency planners – as an exercising tool to highlight the issues that they might wish to think about when planning recovery
  • With policy makers – to help them experience how their policies are played out on the ground
  • With public and private sector practitioners involved in disaster recovery – for example, insurers, loss adjusters, damage management professionals, local government workers, teachers, health professionals – to showcase good and bad practice and stimulate debate on the best ways to manage recovery
  • With students – to help them explore the disaster recovery process for themselves, to illustrate the potential consequences of climate change and to highlight social and economic inequalities within communities
  • The game also makes an excellent ice-breaker for courses dealing with a wide range of subjects – from hazard and disaster management to emergency planning and understanding the social impacts of climate change

These are just some examples of the ways in which the game can be used – there are many more so do think creatively when deciding how to use it and let us know of any other good ideas you may have!



We are very grateful to all those who have given us help and feedback to develop the game. In particular, we would like to thank all project participants, who gave us the idea in the first place.

Thanks must also go to the Cabinet Office and the Economic & Physical Sciences Research Council, for providing funding to develop the initial version of the game. Special thanks must go to the Economic & Social Research Council and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme for funding our work with children and young people, which enabled us to develop the version you see here today.